Veterans honored at Fair

A county fair is usually not a place where you see many military people but that is changing this year. Vietnam veterans are being honored at this year’s Chautauqua County Fair. The Dunkirk Historical Lighthouse has a booth in Floral Hall honoring the men and women who served overseas.

“Every year the lighthouse is honored to have a booth at the fair to display, pick a theme and work on it. This year, I decided to go with remembering Vietnam from home,” John Fedyszyn, a lighthouse volunteer, said.

The booth is located inside Floral Hall along the wall closest to Waldorff Road. All Chautauqua County veterans who were lost in battle are listed on the wall, in addition to various facts about the war.

The oldest American killed was 63 years old while the youngest was only 15 years old. Other facts include 29 sets of brothers were killed in combat and one high school lost 56 students to the war.

“A war, that to us, was only won by body count. There was no land that we wanted, there were no cities that we wanted to take over – it was strictly body count,” said Fedyszyn. “It’s a forgotten war. Many people don’t want to talk about it.”

Veterans can drop off memorabilia at the booth to be displayed throughout the week. All items will be available for pickup at the lighthouse starting next week.

If items aren’t picked up, the lighthouse will keep them and add the pieces to their various veteran’s displays. All items should have a note with name and phone number on the back.

“We do have veterans that are coming and leaving things. We have a letter here from a veteran talking about what he was going to do after the war, different photos and artifacts,” Fedyszyn said.

Some of those articles on display include a basic handbook for war, a record that was made by a soldier, uniforms and a Vietnamese doll. All items are from the veterans museum at the lighthouse which is one of the best in the area, Fedyszyn said.

“The Vietnamese doll was a souvenir that every G.I. could buy. It was 25 cents to a dollar (in price). Postage was free. It was a quick way for you to send something home. Probably every mother and girlfriend got that doll,” Fedyszyn said.

All military artifacts dropped off will be collected and will go to the Lighthouse at the end of the fair. Items will stay at the lighthouse until picked up. The lighthouse is open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. but closed on Wednesdays. Fedyszyn will be at the lighthouse on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Comments on this article may be sent to smcdonnell@observertoday.com.